Magazine article Management Today

Best Engineering Factory Highly Commended

Magazine article Management Today

Best Engineering Factory Highly Commended

Article excerpt

RYOBI ALUMINIUM CASTING (UK)

When Ryobi Aluminium Casting last appeared in these pages in 1994, the factory in Carrickfergus had been in production for two years and had 45 employees. Its sole customer, Ford, had asked the Japanese multinational -- the largest independent die-casting operation in the world, with factories in Japan, the US and China -- to establish a beachhead in Europe. The car-maker was unable otherwise to obtain the quality and cost-effectiveness of the large and complex aluminium castings that were increasingly required to replace heavy steal with lighter aluminium.

The solution: Ryobi's die-casting technologies and techniques. Some processes are patented, such as a vacuum system that evacuates the air ahead of molten metal, moving at 45 metres a second through the complex interior channels of a two-metre-square die that weighs 17 tonnes. Others are not: for example, all Ryobi factories apply a Japanese-sourced flux in a particular way, because it produces better castings. Competitors could, but don't.

As automotive companies now move to replace aluminium with still-lighter magnesium, achieving a 40% weight reduction, such expertise is increasingly important, So too is the ability to master new skills such as cold-chamber casting and laminar-flow techniques, which were not around in 1994. …

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